Kevin Navayne Interview - Hollywood's Rising Star

You may not know the name Kevin Navayne, but you will. There’s already buzz about his upcoming roles as civil right leader Marcus Garvey and Liberian warlord Charles Taylor. How’s that for acting range?

 

Navayne, who is set to soon begin filming the Marcus Garvey biopic, says he’s ready. He has studied Garvey’s mannerisms, talked to his family members, read his speeches. “I want to be able to express what he stood for. I don’t want to disappoint,” says Navayne, 38.

Kevin Navayne will star in the upcoming biopic of Marcus Garvey Photo by Ali Donze

He knows this is an important film. He feels triumphant in having tried out several times before finally getting the coveted role. The biopic, which recounts the life and death of the Jamaican political leader, publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, orator, and outspoken proponent of Black Nationalism and Pan-Africanism, is scheduled for release in the fall of 2017.

 

As much as he’s focused on Garvey, he’s also looking ahead to his next project, playing Taylor in American Warlord. “Just like I want to show the good in Garvey, I want to show the evil in Taylor. He killed so many people,” says Navayne, who says he plans to go to Liberia to talk to people there. “I also want to go to visit and talk with him in the Florida prison where he is serving a life sentence.”

 

Does the weight of two major roles feel heavy?  “Thank God I’ve been lucky to get these roles that I’ve worked hard for. I think it will be fun to play the bad guy. I’ll have to bust my butt to be believable,” says Navayne.

Navayne is an avid car guy Photo by Ali Donze

It must all be a bit surreal for Navayne who says acting was never on his radar.  Navayne, born in Spanish Town, Jamaica, came to America with his family when he was seven. He grew up in East Hartford, Connecticut and played baseball in high school and college. He had his sights set on Major League Baseball, but dislocated his shoulder and decided to go back to school to become a lawyer. He studied at NYU law school, and while working one of his many jobs, as a bartender at Liquid on the lower east side in 2001, he was discovered by a modeling scout.

 

“I was barely making enough at the bar to scrape by,” says Navayne who was attracted to the money modeling would offer. He was relentless in going out to modeling calls. Despite nearly two dozen calls and no positive results, he kept at it. “I wasn’t going to stop until every agency in town told me no.”

 

He finally got a yes, from no less than Ford Models. Navayne would build a roster of marketing campaigns for household names like Ralph Lauren, Nautica, Lacoste, IZOD, Todd Smith and Bridgestone/Firestone.

Navayne will play Charles Taylor in American Warlord Photo by Ali Donze

Getting into the industry was no small feat. “It’s difficult for male models, period, add in the fact that I’m black, it was hard to get go-sees. And when I was cast in campaigns, I had to be 10 times better, to have that much more poise.”

 

If he thought modeling was tough to break into, the movie business was even more so. “In the eyes of some casting and movie directors there’s a stigma with models. They think you’re just a pretty face. I had to prove I could learn,” says Navayne.

Navayne's first acting role was Disappearing Acts Photo by Ali Donze

He went to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City and got a private acting coach. His first acting role was in the HBO movie Disappearing Acts, with Wesley Snipes and Sanaa Lathan. Then would come a theatrical role in Days of Wrath, roles on NBC’s Law & Order: SVU, CSI: New York and others.

Jamaican-born Navayne enjoys cooking Jamaica, Italian and French cuisines Photo by Ali Donze

When he’s not prepping for his roles, he finds much pleasure in golf. “I’m a huge golfer.”  The self professed “extreme homebody” can be found experimenting -- cooking in his Los Angeles home, his much beloved – Jamaican, as well as Italian and French cuisine. Navayne is an avid car guy. “I can tell you everything about every car,” he says. Another passion is traveling. “I’m trying to go through as many passports as possible.”

 

Navayne is socially conscious and is big on giving back to the community. He is involved several charities and speaks passionately about the Nomi Network, an organization dedicated to getting women out of illegal sex trafficking. “I didn’t realize how many women, especially young women are kidnapped. It could me my cousin, my aunt. It resonated with me. I help the organization any way I can.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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